If a quick lesson cooking quail testicles is something that tickles your fancy, then be sure to catch up with Erika Wylie, managing director of Banyard Game Birds, at the Rallings Feast.
Pittsworth farmers Clive and Erika Wylie are no strangers to hard work. They’ve farmed poultry, peanuts, cotton, organic eggs, cattle – and, as of five years ago, quail. Taking on the existing Darling Downs farm and production facilities in 2010, the Wylies have invested more than time and finances into the quail farming operation. “Its about love”, laughs Erika. She may laugh, but for these two, it’s a serious passion. “I am a grass roots person”, she says. “I grew up on the land and have remained close to my roots. Education and agriculture are of great importance. This is it for us – we’re here for life”.
Erika, a nurse by profession, and husband Clive, former founding director of Inglewood Farms, live by the ‘conception to consumption’ policy. This means each bird from Banyard Game Birds is bred, incubated, hatched, grown and processed without leaving the property. Each step of the way, the smallest game birds to be farmed in Australia are monitored and personally checked daily. And once grown (around 36 – 40 days) the 170-gram birds are dressed, and distributed from the Wylie’s directly. The dynamic duo specialise in quail eggs, too – and have their sights set on ducks and geese down the track. But for now, it’s the quail that take up most of their time. “Quail are very different than other poultry”, supplies Erika. “Clive and I work together, we look after our business, and it looks after us. It is intensive, but we love it. These little guys have so much personality”.
And as for the labeling? “We took on the lot when we bought the property”, says Wylie. “The Rallings crew came with the farm purchase”. And are they happy? “We have had no reason to change, or even look anywhere else. They have been fabulous to deal with. In fact, this is the first chance we have to meet them – how exciting is that?”
If you are not up for a testicle cooking class, we suggest you ask the Wylies about the history of quail. They are fascinating little creatures, and Erika is a gem to speak to. It’s a ball.